A view of the famous bridge across the Batoka Gorge with the spray of Victoria Falls at sunrise.

Self-drive from Namibia to Vic Falls

November 16, 2022

It is more than possible to self-drive from Namibia to Victoria Falls, in fact it's a wonderful way to combine two or even three countries (including Botswana into the mix) into one seamless trip, but there's more to it than that.

Namibia and its surrounding countries offer some of the best self-drive holidays in Africa. With good planning and preparation you will have an amazing African adventure with incredible scenery and a great variety of attractions and activities. Many of our clients enquire about combining Namibia, Botswana and Victoria Falls in a self-drive tour. Here is our advice on the best options.

Drop-off Charges

It is possible to hire a car in Windhoek, drive through Caprivi/Botswana, and drop the vehicle off in Victoria Falls. However, the drop off fee for the vehicle is quite high (from ZAR 13,000 to ZAR 17,000 in 2021 depending on the type of car and car hire company). Most visitors opt to collect or drop off their hire vehicle in Kasane (near Chobe), as the border crossing permit cost into Zimbabwe is also quite high. A transfer is then arranged from Kasane to Victoria Falls, and on to the airport. This can be done in either direction. The other option is to drop the vehicle in Namibia at Katima Mulilo and take a road transfer from there further.

You can also collect your vehicle in Windhoek and drop it off in Maun but you will still incur delivery or drop off charges (from R10,000 to R12,000) – so depending on your budget, if you can afford the flight to Maun then a good option is to tour Namibia as a self-drive, and fly to Maun doing the rest of your trip with flights and transfers.

Combined Trips (self-drive and fly-in)

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It's easy to arrange a rental car for the Namibian portion of your trip, then fly to Maun and hire a car there to travel around Botswana and drive to Victoria Falls, dropping the vehicle off in Maun again.

Another variation is to rent a car for Namibia, fly to Maun and use transfers to lodges from there, and then do a day trip to Victoria Falls from Chobe.

If you want to tour the Okavango, then you have a couple of different options if you want to combine flying-in and driving:

  • Drive from Windhoek to Swakopmund then on to Etosha and the Caprivi (Popa Falls area) before going to Maun via Shakawe. Drop off your vehicle in Maun then fly into the Okavango Delta and back to Maun ending there or continuing on to Chobe and transfer to Victoria Falls to end.
  • Drive to Windhoek, Swakopmund, Etosha, West and East Caprivi, dropping your vehicle off in Katima Mulilo or Kasane. Transfer to Chobe and to Victoria Falls and back. Fly to the Okavango Delta, then from Maun fly back to Johannesburg or Windhoek.

Air Botswana flies between Johannesburg and Kasane, and SA Express flies daily between Maun and Johannesburg. There are also daily flights between Maun and Cape Town with Air Botswana, and from Windhoek to Maun and Victoria Falls.

More Driving than Flying

If you would like to start in Windhoek, visit Sossusvlei and Swakopmund and drive to Etosha via Damaraland. From there, travel to Popa Falls area and enter Botswana close to Shakawe, and on to Maun where you drop off your vehicle. From Maun, fly to the lodges in the Okavango Delta and then fly or transfer to Kasane in order to visit Chobe, and road transfer to Victoria Falls.

The benefits of this itinerary are:

  • The Mehembo border is close to Shakawe and is not as busy as the others.
  • The Botswana taxes are less than in Zimbabwe.
  • If you leave early from Popa Falls area, you can arrive in Maun by 13h00 and still fly into the Okavango Delta, eliminating the need to stay overnight in Maun.
  • Dropping off your hire vehicle is cheaper in Maun than it is in Kasane or Victoria Falls.
  • Entering Zimbabwe with a transfer company works well as the guide or driver does this often and is familiar with the process, so it is more streamlined.

Self-drive trips which combine camping with transfers to Victoria Falls and flights out from there, are one of the most cost effective ways of planning a holiday like this.

Driving in Botswana

Doing a self-drive in Botswana is not as easy as in Namibia as the roads are not in great condition and not well sign posted. You are able to camp in Botswana, but the sites are limited and have to be booked well in advance, up to 9 to 12 months at least. The best way to see the swampy Okavango Delta is to fly-in. There are also some park restrictions in Chobe which you need to know about if you are driving:

  • Traffic is being controlled, so that only a certain number of vehicles are allowed to enter per day.
  • You are only able to drive in one direction.
  • You can only stop for 10 minutes at each site.
  • Lodges are restricted to the number of vehicles in the park.
  • Entry to the park has to be booked in advance.
  • Self-drives may only enter the park later and must be out of the park earlier.

As you can see, there are a number of options available to you, and with the right information and planning, you will be able to enjoy a magnificent and smooth trip between these beautiful countries.

The above could seem confusing if you're not familiar with a map of how it all comes together, not to worry though, that's where we come in. We know what works best. What would be possible given your travel duration and also where you can save on costs and unnecessary hassles. Contact us to put it together for you and give you the best advice.

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